Patient safety and quality care are at the forefront of discussion in the healthcare industry today. From impact on the patients themselves to the bottom lines for organizations – healthcare organizations and providers are constantly striving towards improving quality of care and patient safety.
There are several practices and processes that can be implemented to drive improvement in these areas, one method in which healthcare organizations and providers are increasingly turning to being patient safety organizations (PSOs).
By January 1, 2017, hospitals with more than 50 beds who want to participate in health insurance exchanges are required to maintain a patient safety evaluation system and PSOs are designed to meet that need.
Patient safety organizations create a secure environment where providers and healthcare organizations can collect, analyze, and share data related to patient safety, adverse events, near-misses, and unsafe conditions.
The data and reporting actions encouraged by PSOs are fundamentally changing how patient safety events are addressed. Providers have traditionally shied away from disclosing errors, but these organizations are designed to combat that by encouraging providers and healthcare organizations to voluntarily report and share data on patient safety events without any fear of legal discovery.
Through streamlined data collection, PSOs encourage and facilitate best practices for improving safety and identifying trends and create a network for participants who have a common shared goal of improving patient safety.
Many hospitals and providers are reluctant to share information regarding adverse patient events, near-misses, or unsafe conditions for fear of legal action if those details are discovered. The problem with this underlying fear of reporting events is the missed opportunity to share lessons learned.
Information reported to a PSO is afforded federal privilege and confidentiality protection and is included in a national bank of reported patient safety data. PSOs utilize experts that analyze and aggregate event data locally, regionally, and nationally.
Amy Andres, senior vice president of quality and data at the Ohio Hospital Association, pays close attention to the value of PSOs.
“The value of reporting to a PSO is that events are looked at in a macro cycle as opposed to a micro cycle,” said Andres. “The events are aggregated, research is conducted, information is shared with the members, and the members can implement high-impact strategies.”
Through improved, standardized reporting, PSOs are able to develop insights into the underlying causes of patient safety events and ultimately develop strategies to decrease adverse events in the future. The reporting of near-misses specifically provides the great opportunity to work on solutions without the impact of the event or harm reaching the patient.
Many organizations have structured effective reporting systems that support their own internal analysis of data, but this data cannot be aggregated or compared with similar information from other organizations due to different reporting systems.
PSOs help promote accurate and complete reporting from participants because they are required to use the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality’s (AHRQ) Common Formats to report data. With a standardized manner of reporting in place, healthcare systems across the nation follow a uniform system for data collection supporting aggregation of data from many organizations and enabling expedited learning among those who participate in PSOs.
With common reporting language in place, there are benefits to PSO participants on local, state, and national levels. Sam Watson, senior vice president of patient safety and quality at the Michigan Health & Hospital Association and executive director of the MHA Keystone Center, explained the benefit of each.